SolarCity, a leading American solar company, has announced it is set to begin a $1 billon residential rooftop project, doubling the number of solar systems currently on homes around the United States.
The company reports it has received funding from two major investment banks – U.S. Renewables Group and Bank of America – plus a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. SolarCity recently received $280 million investment from Google. With this infusion of capital, the company plans to install 160,000 solar photovoltaic systems on houses and other buildings on military bases around the country in the next five years.
"This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history," Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement announcing the deal. "It can also be a model for other large-scale rooftop solar projects that help America regain its lead in the solar industry."
Since it was founded in 2006, the company has installed 16,000 rooftop units. "This is a massive kick of momentum for the company," said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's founder and CEO in a company press announcement.
In the wake of recent DOE loan failures to large solar companies like Solyndra, which filed for bankruptcy last week, Rive stresses that this deal is nearly risk-free for the lenders and government, with SolarCity putting up its own money for the panels and only getting reimbursed by its lenders after each project is complete.
Renewable Energy World reports that SolarCity owns, operates and maintains the systems, and sells the electricity to the end-user. In working with investment banks to pool together often-complicated state and federal incentives, the company streamlines the process and simply offers the customer solar electricity – often at prices lower than current electric rates.
SolarCity says it will try to employ American veterans and family members for the 750 people needed to complete the project, showing that green jobs do indeed exist. The company has seen extraordinary growth in recent years. After starting in 2006 with just two people, SolarCity has added over 600 employees since 2006.